Church representatives were questioned about gay rights at a
forum in Dunedin last night marking a year this month since
marriage equality law passed.
The Presbyterians, Anglicans, Catholics, and Methodists
fronted for the forum, organised by Otago University
Students' Association queer support officer Neill Ballantyne.
It was jointly hosted by the University of Otago Centre for
Theology and Public Issues and OUSA Queer Support.
The Bishop of Dunedin, the Rt Rev Dr Kelvin Wright, said gay
marriage was a ''non-issue'' for him, but there remained
division of opinion among Anglicans.
The Anglicans were working through a process to allow parts
of the church to disagree on the issue without causing
The Methodists had moved on after agonising greatly over the
issue, Methodist minister and university chaplain the Rev
Greg Hughson said.
He hoped the Methodists could be a model for others, like the
Presbyterians, and Anglicans, on how to resolve it.
The Rev Dr Bruce Hamill said the Presbyterian church needed
to rethink its position, which upheld a conservative view of
Dr Hamill, who convenes a church group on doctrinal matters,
said his personal view was that those supporting gay rights
were more in keeping with the values of Jesus.
Fr Mark Chamberlain said the Roman Catholics remained opposed
to gay marriage.
''In the Catholic tradition, it's not possible for marriage
to be widened beyond a man and a woman.
''That's something that's unthinkable for the Catholic
A questioner asked Fr Chamberlain why the church was not
shifting on gay marriage, when it was softening in other
areas. Fr Chamberlain said the church was not changing.
Forum organiser Mr Ballantyne said that as a gay Christian he
found church attitudes disappointing.
It was not enough to be ''middle of the road'' on the issue.
Churches must take a lead advocating gay rights, including
petitioning countries which still actively discriminated
against gay people.